The spiraling prevalence of diabetes worldwide means that millions more people are developing complications such as diabetic retinopathy. Health practitioners and people with diabetes need to be aware of this exploding problem and the simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of visual impairment. Blindness from diabetic retinopathy is largely avoidable but requires greater awareness of the need for early detection and timely treatment.
Retina Risk is proud to cooperate with Lions Clubs, both in Iceland and Germany, to improve the quality of life for people living with diabetes and to prevent avoidable blindness due to diabetic retinopathy. Two of the five global causes of Lions Clubs International are diabetes and vision; our missions align perfectly. So, in this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the initiatives Lions Clubs are taking to reduce the prevalence of diabetes and improve the quality of life for people who are blind and visually impaired.
Since 1917, Lions Clubs International members have supported providing vision for all, globally. They conduct eye screening, equip hospitals and clinics, distribute medicine and raise awareness of eye disease. Lions Club International’s mission for diabetes is to reduce the prevalence of diabetes and to improve the quality of life for those living with diabetes. Just last month, the Lions Clubs of Iceland donated two state of the art optical coherence tomography (OCT) cameras to the University Hospital of Iceland and the Service Center for the Visually Impaired in Reykjavík, which will help to detect the onset of diabetic retinopathy.
Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) assists Lions in fighting diabetes through SightFirst grant funding to support diabetic retinopathy programs and through Core 4 funding support for diabetes programs, worldwide. Since 1990, the SightFirst grant has donated more than $365 million for over 1,330 projects in 102 countries. The projects have ranged from public education and professional training, to screening, treatment and low vision services.
SightFirst prioritizes aid to underserved populations where access to eye care is limited due to economic, social or geographical barriers. SightFirst diabetic retinopathy projects strengthen established diabetes and eye care clinics in communities where diabetic retinopathy is a significant cause of blindness and where appropriate diabetes case management exists. The provision of equipment, improvement of facilities and training of personnel enables these programs to care for disadvantaged diabetic retinopathy patients in close collaboration with their diabetes care providers. Through this program, Lions International can aid hospitals and medical establishments in getting the scanning cameras required to screen for diabetic retinopathy.
This series about the Lions Clubs will focus on the service that individual clubs are providing around the world to support persons living with diabetes and to prevent avoidable blindness.Next week’s post will focus on one Lions Club in Germany. Recently, I had the pleasure to speak to the dynamic Dr. Sibylle Scholtz about the projects that her club in Frauenalb-Nordschwarzwald is championing. She has a lot to say about their efforts! We are truly grateful for our collaboration with the Lions Clubs Iceland and Lions Club in Germany and very much welcome interest from other Lions Clubs around the world to join our effort to eradicate preventable blindness due to diabetes.